Expert Reviews – Northern Tuli GR

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Impressive by day, intriguing by night
Overall rating
4/5

The Tuli Game Reserve is part of the Tuli Block, a swathe of land wedged against the South African and Zimbabwean borders in Botswana’s eastern spur. The reserve comprises several private concessions, roamed by a satisfyingly broad mixture of wildlife species. Those who associate the words “private concession” with “beyond my budget” needn’t worry – there are accommodation options to suit most pockets.

Night drives are permitted here (a rare treat in Botswana, where driving after dark isn’t allowed in the state-run parks and reserves). This, for me, is an excellent reason to visit. There’s no way of knowing what your beam will pick up, but if you’re lucky, aardvarks, aardwolves or leopards may materialise. By day, the scenery is dramatic, with nyala trees, fever trees and sculptural rock formations adding grandeur to the wilderness.

Botswana’s Forgotten Corner
Overall rating
4/5

Home to some of the more interesting scenery in southern and eastern Botswana, the Tuli Block combines Limpopo River frontage with a series of kopjes (rocky outcrops) in the riverine hinterland. It’s here that I managed some of my favourite sunset photos in all Botswana, with rocky outcrops and umbrella thorn framing blood-red African skies. Four of the Big Five are here – lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo – while cheetahs, brown hyenas and even African wild dogs are all possibilities. The reserve is actually a series of private concessions that have grouped together to form the reserve (there are also long-term plans to extend the reserve south and even across the border to create a transfrontier park). And because this is largely private land, night drives should be possible – if they are, this is one of the best places in Botswana to try one.

Incredible leopard country on the picturesque banks of the Limpopo
Overall rating
5/5

If you are arriving in Tuli from South Africa then take a chance to cross the border via the Limpopo River crossing at Pont Drift (although you will have to leave your vehicle on the SA side). This must be the only place in the world where you cross the international border between two countries by cablecar! The lodges and camps in Tuli Block do pick-ups from Pont Drift anyway so it is not always inconvenient to leave your vehicle behind. Tuli guides seem to be among the best in Botswana and, as this is fantastic leopard country, take every opportunity to benefit from their tracking skills! I saw my first leopard kill here and also watched a courting pair of leopards for about 40 minutes (well, he was courting but she was not so keen – familiar story...?).

Limpopo revival
Overall rating
3/5

One of the largest privately owned game reserves in Southern Africa and incorporating three major private concessions, Northern Tuli Game Reserve is a surprisingly well-kept secret in a country blessed with abundant natural resources. Straddling the Shashe, Motloutse and Limpopo Rivers, which serve as natural boundaries with Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Northern Tuli Game Reserve comprises 71,000 hectares of remarkably varied habitat, punctuated by towering sandstone cliffs, basalt formations and distinctive rocky outcrops. Unfortunately, I personally find the eye-watering scenery diminished by the presence of a handful of unconverted cattle and fruit farms that still remain within the confines of the reserve and significantly detract from the wilderness and wildlife feel of the area.

Nonetheless, Tuli is a melting pot of cultural, historical, archaeological and nature-based wildlife tourism with a variety of camps and lodges to suit most budgets. It’s a good destination for Botswana safari regulars in search of something new and different.

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.0/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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